Nearly ten years ago – Hong Kong:
In a bar, an older man with a white beard and white hair tells Logan that he chopped his heid off wi’ the big tree saw an’ floated him “doonstream” like a log. He then asks Logan if he knows what the stupid acid-head cow said to him when he turned up with hubby’s heid. They wanted the whole body Mr. McLeish, otherwise how can they be sure he’s dead.
Logan replies okay, so the missus thinks cuttin’ the guy’s head off don’t prove he’s dead, so what did he do. McLeish replies that it’s a little-known fact that back in his golden Edinburgh childhood, he did a ventriloquism act on the stage to help pay the coal bills. So he put the heid on his knee and set it tae talking to her “I wanna marry ye again. I’m never gauny leave you, Maud. I’m gauny make you dust me every Sunday and wash off me stump wi’ wee cotton buds.” She offered him an extra fifty thousand to take the heid wi’ him. He then tells Logan that being the best killer in the world is a tough business.
Logan tells him that it must be and asks how many people he has killed. Thinking out loud, McLeish says that he’s fifty years old this winter an’ it’s eight-fifteen in the morning – aroond four hundred and fifty people. He killed his first man three days after his thirteenth birthday, and have killed aboot twelve people each year since. Twelve people is not exactly trying hard. He adds that it does get hard.
At that moment, the waiter arrives at the table and asks the gweilo if he wants more whiskey. Logan mentions to McLeish that he knows that the Cantonese call all white men “gweilo,” it’s the word for them but when they use it on him, it means somethin’ different. What’s goin’ on there? McLeish replies gweilo’s exact translation is “white ghost.” Did he not know that? They’re white ghosts to the natives. Just ethereal pale spirits passing through their home. But they know who he is. All o’ them recognize him on some base level. To them, he is the White Ghost. Logan says the best killer in the world.
Tapping his cigar, Logan says to McLeish that he says it’s hard, killin’ must be like breathin’ to him now. McLeish says that if he wasn’t fifty, perhaps. Soon, he won’t be the best killer in the world anymore. He’ll get slow and creaky, the big contracts will stop coming his way, he’ll have to quit freelancing and then, one day, someone will remember that he saw something he shouldn’t have once, and maybe it’ll even be him (Logan) who does it – someone young and hard and talented. Logan says not him, wetwork ain’t his game.
Pulling out a knife, McLeish asks him what his game is. They’ve been talking and drinking there for three months now and he still don’t know. As McLeish spreads his fingers out on the table and alternates sticking the knife blade between each finger and back again, Logan tells him that he don’t have a game. He came back there four months back, met a nice girl, decided to stay awhile. Logan then says to McLeish that he didn’t say what he was doing in Hong Kong either. McLeish tells him holidaying. He’s between jobs, waiting to see what shakes out, drinking a lot. He can’t kill without drinking four bottles of scotch now. But when he does kill, it’s a beautiful thing. He should see him work. There’s no one on this planet like…
At that moment, McLeish makes a mistake and cuts his finger with the knife. Yelling out in pain, he exclaims that never happened before. Gathering his things, Logan tells him that he has to go; he promised he’d take Ai-Chia to the movies. Watching Logan leave, McLeish downs his bottle and tells him it is Thursday and to go ahead and do so.
About two hours later, Logan exits the movie theater and meets up with Ai-Chia. Ai-Chia apologizes for not staying in the theater. Logan tells her it’s all the same to her. It’s Mister Wong she has to explain it to. She knows how he likes her to check out the new movies. Ai-Chia tells him not to worry. When her daddy hears that was a Mandarin-language film, he’ll understand. Ninety-five percent of Hong Kong speaks Cantonese, so they make the film in Mandarin, my God. She adds that she should look on the bright side. If it’s in Mandarin, then the Triads didn’t finance it.
As they walk arm in arm, Ai-Chia tells Logan that in a few years time it’s going to be impossible to make films without having to deal with those criminal scum. Logan tells her he’s easy either way, his Cantonese is lousy. So what do they see next Thursday? Ai-Chia tells him daddy’s new film. A Wong Tak-Wah production, with uncredited script help from Wong Ai-Chia and Logan something. Logan remarks that Mister Wong needed setting straight on a few notations about ninja. He then asks what he called it in the end. Ai-Chia tells him “terrible master.”
When they open the door to the house, they find Mister Wong, dead. Looking outside, Logan sees McLeish getting into a white car toting a rifle. Immediately, Logan tells Ai-Chia to call the cops and tell them that McLeish did this, McLeish the White Ghost. As he takes off after him on a motorcycle, Ai-Chia asks that he knows the man who did this.
Shortly, Logan catches up to the white car and McLeish. Dodging a knife swipe from McLeish, Logan uses his metal claws and kills the driver, causing the car to careen off course. Taking over the driving duties, McLeish laments that can he not even rely on getaway drivers anymore. Logan tells him he’s next, murderin’ Scot’s freak. McLeish then takes the car and turns it into Logan’s motorcycle, causing him to fly crash. As McLeish drives away, he tells Logan sorry. If only he’d not returned home from the pictures early, they’d not have seen each other. Every Thursday for three bloody months, he’s not gone back to Wong’s house ‘til half-past one.
On a private boat, a Cantonese businessman tells McLeish that their man in the police confirms his kill. Film producer Wong Tak-Wah, knifed to death, and that he is the only suspect. McLeish tells him that he won’t be coming back there. The man says good and that it’s a sad thing. Wong was a fool. All he needed to do was lend his star to their production for a month but… McLeish says that the sad thing is that he killed him over a motion picture, he doesn’t see the point. Surely, he can make better money in dope. Handing McLeish a briefcase, he tells him it’s not the money gweilo. There is face in movies. Does he understand, there is honor to be had? Opening the briefcase of money, McLeish says horray for Hollywood.
No sooner does he close the briefcase than he gets nailed in the back with Logan’s motorcycle. Lying on the ground, McLeish yells up to Logan that he broke his bloody back. Pulling out his gun, McLeish’s associate goes to shoot the cigar-chomping Logan. McLeish yells at him not to shoot. One shot will set off the bloody gaso… Unfortunately, he doesn’t hear his pleas and shoots his gun. When he does, the boat explodes in a fiery blast. Watching it burn, Logan comments that he didn’t even need to waste his cigar on him.
Manhattan, the East Village – today:
Walking home, Logan notices the standard Saturday crackle of life in the village. Ain’t no other place on Earth so desperate to prove it’s alive. There’s nothing he’d like more than to go with it. Have a beer or seven, watch women get all sweaty from dancing, have a laugh. But he’s got no time, nor the right mood.
Once he reaches the front of his building, he finds it odd. The front of his building’s always the homeless gulf war guy’s pitch this time o’night. Among other things, he has a sense o’ smell that can tell you what brand deodorant you were using this time last year. His apartment smells wrong. Popping his bone claws, he remarks that he’s got them too. They used to be sheathed in an unbreakable metal called adamantium. So did the rest of his skeleton – things change.
Entering his apartment, he sees blood everywhere. He finds the homeless guy on his bed, dead. Looking at the photo slapped on his forehead, Logan thinks to himself no way. That might well be old Mister Wong, the film producer and on the nightstand, it might be the Scotsman’s knife. When he pulls it out, he hears a click. Looking under his bedside cabinet, he finds plastique explosive and the knife-tip was in it. The arming switch couldn’t click over until he pulled the knife out like a moron. He also notices that sticking out of the explosive are shards of adamantium. Instinctively, he immediately rushes to the window and leaps out of it. As soon as he does, the bomb explodes. Landing on top of a car, Logan thinks to himself that McLeish is alive!
Hong Kong – years ago:
At a restaurant, McLeish thanks Logan for coming and having dinner with him. He hates eating alone and he’s finding that the company’s pretty poor in Hong Kong. Logan mentions that he woulda thought the Triads’d be courting him. McLeish remarks that Logan would know about Triads. He saw him and that Triad enforcer last Friday. Logan asks him how much he saw. Taking a drink of his whiskey, McLeish replies that he saw the enforcer cut him and his knife shatter on his bone. He saw the wound heal perfectly in minutes, right before his eyes. And he saw him gut him with those bloody great knitting needles that come out of his knuckles.
He then tells Logan that he’s a special man. Like Captain America annat, he’s thinking. But he’s not unkillable and he shouldn’t carry himself like he is. Picking up a piece of fruit, he begins to demonstrate. He once saw a Japanese killer attack a soldier who’d been out in snowfields – terrible frostbite, frozen through. The Japanese cut through the top of his arm like he is doing to the piece of fruit and pulled the flesh of the whole arm down from it like a glove. He states that he can’t cut through his bone, but he can slice around it. He could do that to his heid maybe. Hearing his words, Logan just stares at him.
Now – Manhattan:
As he watches the fire continue above him, Logan realizes that McLeish is alive. The gweilo, the White Ghost, somehow he survived a broken back, incineration and a trip to the bottom of Hong Kong harbor. He wants to laugh, just thinkin’ the words. But he don’t because the best killer in the world has had years to plan a way to kill him. And he thinks he’s still got the adamantium which made him a lot harder to kill.
Making his way down the street, Logan thinks to himself that if it is McLeish, if he is still alive, then he’s the only man on Earth who’s got a better than fifty-fifty chance of planting him in the dirt. And he’ll have targeted anyone and everyone he knows too. One poor sap already bought it just ‘cause this was his pan-handlin’ spot. As he passes a whole rack o’ payphones they start to ring. Immediately, Logan starts to run off down the street.